Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Apple Universe

Just came across this picture in BusinessWeek today, talking about how savvy Apple's current business is after their recent profit announcement. I think this pic really nicely present how powerful Apple in tech business today:
Source from: http://images.businessweek.com/mz/10/18/thumb_1018_92apple.jpg

Monday, April 26, 2010

Some thoughts on the recent earthquake

Natural disaster is fair, it kills everything: human or animals. However, what human beings could do and have done can really make a big difference. An originally nameless volunteer’s death while saving lives of the young and weak exposed the greatest humanity of all. Reportedly, he had long been involved in charity works based on his track records. He had always wanted to say low profile and let his actions spoke for himself. I don’t think he would consider himself as a hero. I think that giving his life for this mission was purely an accident, and he is certainly not a martyr who was somehow portrayed by the government or other interesting parties which hijacked his story for their own gains. Shame on them! Man! He didn’t wanna die! He had no intention to give up his life; it is purely his humanity act of saving life that coincided with an accident that caused his death. I’m sure he is a life-loving person, that’s why he tried his best to save lives and in turn by only staying alive that you can continue to help others. Regardless, his life story is certainly a valuable lesson for self-reflection purpose to the people in our money-grabbing, materialistic society that is polluted with distorted values. Wish him R.I.P.

Based on what I saw on TV and read in the news, I think the government still has a long way to go to improve its rescues efforts. Why can foreign expertise and equipment are rejected? Some people suspected that it may have to do with a geopolitical sensitivity issue, I don’t know if that’s true. But, life is precious! A country is only worth to be loved if she loved her people. Yes, it could be a chicken-and-egg scenario, but still. The big guy always has the upper hand to take the lead.

I think media like to see political leaders rushed to the destruction scenes as early as possible, that shows that they care. Don’t get me wrong that I do think they should be there. However, what I found appalling is what I saw on TV that rescue workers stopped their actions and simply standing there, surrounding the leader, listening to his speech and chapping hands. Come on! We are talking about saving lives here, every minute counts! Yes, the leaders were undoubtedly giving encouraging speeches for boosting morale which were nice gesture, but I don’t think that should make everybody stop what they should be doing. Going to hospital to meet the victims, which would be enough. Just seeing the leaders at the site watching from a distance at grand scale, which would be enough. Not making everyone stop! I just think that has shown, at least superficially on TV that, what is more important to the people involved. If that’s true for what I’ve seen, they need a lesson to learn what their priority should be.

Furthermore, I’m no expert in rescues mission or logistic. However, I was quite surprise to see the absence of helicopters there to load supplies and personnel to different sites. Based on all the statistics about the financial well-being of the country, I’m pretty sure they can afford fleets of helicopters. How come there were so few of them? I only see trucks, simple hand tools, and personnel on foot. When you have broken roads, what’s better than airborne?

Also, they should lift the restrictions to let more journalists and reporters to report there on the ground. I understand that is a sensitive issue there. However, I still believe that the growth of investigative journalism and free press is important to a country. Yes, the regime may consider that they are double-edged sword, cuz they would challenge policies. However, improvements would only be fostered by exposing the bad and the ugly. Being able to continuously improve people’s lives is magic key to the longevity of staying in power, regardless of what political system a country is running.

Friday, April 23, 2010

It is Complicated

I’m not talking about Meryl Streep’s movie here, but it is really how I feel right now. Whenever I reach certain milestones in the life, I often have ‘surge’ or some ‘sparks’ of feelings. Usually, they were ‘ups’ with feeling of ‘accomplishment’. However, this time, it is not exactly that. It is a mix or ‘complicated’ feeling, somewhat like as if I’m at the Narita Airport, thinking about my trip in Tokyo without ever visit Shibuya, but I am about to get on a plane to fly to Seoul. Not exactly a failure or defeat, but a sense of ‘incompleteness’ or I should do certain thing at certain time but I didn’t. It is also not exactly a regret or a ‘WHAT IF’ that give me a bitter taste in my mouth and stomach that would grind me repeatedly in future, but more being a situation of a ‘IF’ while I’m looking back with my body moving forward. The bottomline is that I’m NOT enjoying my current feeling while I’m putting something to an end and planning for the beginning of another thing.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What's important in your life? Money? Love? or else...

Living in a materialistic culture, we were taught of the importance of money at a very young age. While I’m watching my kid grows everyday, the first group of vocabulary that he picked up is ‘noun’, like apple, car, carrot, etc. He did pick up the word ‘money’ when he sees us picking out a dollar bill from our wallet, but as we know that dollar notes and coins are not ‘hygienic’, so we don’t really let him touch them in most cases indeed. The second set of vocabulary that he picked up is ‘verb’, like sleep, sit, eat, and drink. Those are relatively closely tied to our natural human needs. So, he could start to tie those nouns and verbs together, like ‘eat tomato’, ‘drink juice’, etc. I don’t think we intentionally taught him about the verb ‘buy’, but somehow, he picked that up this ‘concept’ recently. I guess it is because when he was brought to a supermarket, when he ran around and picked up bags and boxes here and there, we took them from his little hands and put them back on the shelves saying, ‘we don’t need this’ and ‘we don’t need that’, we might say ‘we already have that at home’, somehow slipped our tongue saying ‘you want to buy that? Where is your money?’ I guess that’s how he picked up the verb ‘buy’ and it is linked to ‘money’. Though, his concept of dollar figures is still at a very prelim level, he can quote figures, but doesn’t know what exactly that is and what can be done with that amount of money. Well, in these days and age, I don’t think it will take him long to figure out that.

Certainly, my wife and I also teach my kid about ‘love’. Man! What an ‘abstract’ concept! Neither can it be count or be visible! We tried our best to demonstrate how we love him; somehow I think he gets it. Maybe, he ‘feels’ it, or he somehow put an ‘equal sign’ of love to a bunch of activities, like give him what he wants to play, what he wants to eat, spending time playing with him, reading books to him, etc. Any of those actions alone doesn’t equal to love, put them together doesn’t necessary 100% equal to love neither. One thing that we have ‘sometimes’ missed, is to tell him that we ‘love’ him. I guess with words and actions together, that would be much clear to him. However, don’t you think that it is kinda weird to say ‘I give you a bread because I love you’, or ‘now, dad is reading to you, it is because I love you.’ That sounds ‘odd’ to me. However, I guess somehow mystically, kid can interpret someone’s whole package of actions and words together to judge whether that person loves him or not.

As we grow older, we don’t hear people saying ‘I love you’ very often. Maybe it is a cultural thing, or simply that we don’t love people easily. Should we say more? I’m not sure, cos I don’t think it should be said unless you really mean it, otherwise, it would be very sad if ‘I love you’ becomes another ‘good morning’. Cos, it is hard enough to express love simply by actions as I mentioned above. Those actions don’t equal ‘love’. It would be weird to say ‘I love you’ all the time and use it as a ‘stamp' to label our actions as a result of love. I think that’s why it is always a challenge in ‘love education’, not just to kids, but to adults as well.

On the contrary, seeing the value of ‘money’ is so much easier! Just go to any shops, there are price tags everywhere. In fact, this thing are made so simple that even for ‘Math-haters’, just be able to count the money you have, hand them to the cashier, you will be able to take whatever is for sale home. Since we are not able to live on our own or on barter, we live in a capitalistic society that is run on commerce and everything has been attached with a price tag for transaction purpose. Up to a point that, a lot of things that are not supposed to be valued, like ‘history’, ‘fame’, ‘reputation’, ‘culture’, ‘relationship’, ‘education’, ‘health’, including ‘love’ are also being quantified and priced, and in many cases, in ‘distorted’ way, I think that is just sad.

Is it our fault that we priced everything? I think it may have something to do with our ‘greed’ for money. Cos, most tangible things have prices, I get that. You can calculate the costs related to labor, mining, equipment, transportation, cutting, processing, marketing, sales payroll, etc for the production of a diamond ring. However, why you sell that to the world as an equivalent of love to your love one? ‘A woman’s best friend?’, ‘Diamond is Forever?...Maybe! scientifically speaking, but so do most materials! That’s simply a case of 'exploitation' of 'weak' minds for the sake of charging as much profit margin as you can. Discarding the blood and sweat of illegal mining, and the environmental destruction of mining itself, it is just a classic case of human greed. There are similar examples that can be put in the same context, like the destruction of old relics and historical places in the name of ‘redevelopment’, defamation of people’s reputation with rumors and false accusation in the form of tabloid reporting for the sakes of sales, and so on. The worst part is that many people have become ‘desensitized’ of these things and regard them as ‘normal’, that’s simply tragic.

Nevertheless, are we urban beings that helpless? Come to think of it, I remember there is a ‘game’ or ‘method’ that I came across in some psychology studies that may offer some hints….you may come across such setting as well…it is a way of selection and ranking by comparison. It doesn’t quantify items for you or give you any formula to value them, instead it let you quantify yourself in your mind based on your personal experience or value. Firstly, you list out your processions including both materialistic items and intangible things. Two items are then picked for exclusive selection each time, they are put on a symbolic scale that one side must tip for its greater importance, e.g. your car and your wife. Though, many men claims that their car is their wife or second wife, for most people, they will choose their wife over their car unless they are about to divorce. So, after rounds of comparison, including those are lost in previous rounds, as you can still weight whether you prefer to have your car, or your camera, etc. At the end, you will end up with a list of items that ranked by their importance in your mind. Certainly, the list can change over time, so does their ranking, but some people would be very surprise by the outcome, as they would realize many things that they think are very important, don’t rank very high on their list. I think this game can be used as tool for ‘self-realization’ for people who are a bit ‘lost’ or ‘depressed’ in their lives to refocus on what’re really important to them.

At the end, I just wanna say that price of a thing changes, it won’t stay the same forever, it is just a ‘NUMBER’. Just look at the following:

It is REAL! I didn’t make it up. It is a result of “uber”inflation, taking into consideration of exchange rate and all that. Again, it is just a ‘NUMBER’!

So, what matter is the value of ‘thing’ in your heart. Yes, it may still change, but at least, that’s more in tune with your own ‘subconscious’ mind than being valued by other people who have their own agendas or self-interests.

Actually, my thought above may sound kinda ‘unusual' from me, a person who always self-claimed to have an objective and logical mind. Anyway, I’m still a human being after all.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Lesson of the Day

Curiosity is one of the most under-valued, but most valuable traits a person can have.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Chinese Great Firewall Climbers

As we all know of the existence of the so-called “China Great Firewall” that bars China’s netizens from access of many websites which are deemed by the Chinese Authority as ‘inappropriate’, ‘indecent’ or whatever they want to call them, there have been debates on whether such wall is ‘just’ in view of the fact that many of those sites are actually very normal and popular that are using by millions of users outside the Middle Kingdom. With this ‘Wall’ in place, China netizens are officially forbidden to access Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter. Certainly, there are ‘Chinese version’ of copycat sites available for netizens to use. However, it is just not the same, particularly for those ‘forbidden’ or simply ‘controversy’ contents.

As such, certain ‘tech savvy’ Chinese netizens simply use some ‘underground’ methods to ‘climb’ over the ‘Wall’ to get a taste of those ‘forbidden’ fruits. There is no official number on how many ‘climbers’ are there in China, neither nor the size of the staff of tech experts employed by the Government to police the net there and develop method to make those ‘wall-climbing’ methods obsolete. However, as we all know, there are always geniuses out there. Even for the best tech companies in the world, like Google and Apple, their highly sophisticated, safeguarded products have been jailbroken and cracked within short period of time after releases. Logically, there are holes in the China Greatwall that would be taken advantage of for the continuous enhancement and modification of ‘wall-climbing’ methods.

The availability of ‘wall-climbing’ method is one thing, the willingness of people to become ‘climbers’ is another thing. The allure of ‘forbidden fruit’ must be very tempting to make regular Joes and Janes to become ‘climbers’. Otherwise, most of them would simply stay in their cocoons and enjoying what they are using. There have been ‘rumors’ or ‘conspiracies’ that many ‘Western’ powers have been using many various methods in different forms or means to ‘lure’ Chinese people to ‘buy’ into their values which are not officially accepted by the Chinese Government. I’m not sure how successful those powers are so far. However, after reading the following latest news about what happened in China this week, I’m not sure if they will be ‘inspired’ somehow and see that a thing that make them go ‘hmmm’….

Sola Aoi is a very famous Japanese AV actress. Certainly, her works cannot be officially shown in China’s sites. But that has not stopped many ‘male’ Chinese netizens from knowing her through various underground channels, like pirate DVDs or video files getting through ‘wall-climbing’. Viewing her works is one thing, but getting to know her by communicating with her directly is at another whole different level. Earlier this week, Sola began using Twitter to communicate with her fans and it started with few hundreds of them mostly Japanese which seems to be quite normal and it wouldn’t be noticed or reported by newspaper if it was just that. The funny thing was that within hours, her fan population surged by thousands per hour and most of them are from China. That had shocked her but she was politely thanked her fans from China. The intriguing part of this incident is that thousands of Chinese male netizens got the news that Sola Aoi would be on Twitter somehow and they are only busily scrambling left and right within the China Greatwall to search and share ‘wall-climbing’ methods among themselves, but also actually did the ‘climbing’ to access Twitter to become her fans. I saw some comments on the news that some ‘climbers’ claimed that the China’s version of Twitter though is good and serve the same function as Twitter, the people that you want to follow will just not been found there…

Many Hollywood showbiz people, musicians, artists or even celebrities are on Twitter, not the China’s twitter sites. For $$$ reason, I would not doubt some of them may somehow create mirror posts in Chinese or some sorts in China’s twitter sites in future. However, some of them will just not be found there. Either because they don’t want to be in China or the authority deems that they are not ‘suitable’ to be granted with access there. Sola Aoi’s case is a prime example, and I wonder if similar incidents will continue to replicate in future. The repercussion is not how many Chinese netizens will become fans of foreign porn actresses. The real issues for the authority there that I can think of are:
1. Would some foreign powers explore this method for their own purposes in China?
2. What effects would be on the climbers after they have access to view ‘other’ sites out there as well?
3. How to improve the policing of ‘China Great Firewall’?

Information is like water that it is almost impossible to block, unless you are living in place like North Korea. I’m sure the Chinese authority will get its hands full on mending the ‘Wall’, and it will be a continue battle between two sides in foreseeable future. I guess, as a lucky ‘audience’ of this saga, I would be very interested to see how this continues to unfold in future.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Get My Ass Moving

No, I'm not talking about dancing or clubbing. Finally, I've been able to get my ass moving to go to gym starting this month. So far, my wife and I have been their 5 times already in this month. That's so far so good. Though, I've to admit that I didn't work out as hard as I should be. Cos, except in the weekend, we usually went there after dinner, so it was hard to do much except doing some light jogging or just walking. Nonetheless, we feel good with a bit sweating and simply get our asses moving. I feel good and sleep better afterwards. I think that's all that matter! I don't know how long we can stick to this kind of workout. Anyway, we are so far quite enjoying it as a way to relax and improving our metabolism. It is just feel good.......

Friday, April 9, 2010

Memristors - a game changer in tech!

I'm not much a techie, but I love to read news about new technology development. While the news about iPad, iPhone OS 4.0, etc are swarming the media today, I spot the following article in http://www.computerworld.com/ that wanna share with you.

The term 'memristors' is new to me, but I'm sure it will gain its popularity in coming years. After reading the doc below, would the 3D hollogram device that we see in Star Wars movies come true in future? Just imagine what kind of gadgets this technology will bring....man, I love the term 'game changer', I think it is the one.....stay tune to 2013....

HP chip discovery could be a tech 'game changer'
The 'memristor' acts as a turbo boost for transistors
Sharon Gaudin

April 8, 2010 (Computerworld) Hewlett-Packard is taking the wraps off a new technology that analysts say could be "a major game changer" for computers and personal devices.

HP Labs released information today on a research project dubbed the "memristor," which is a resistor with memory. A resistor constricts current flow inside a circuit and is a key part of nearly every electrical device in use today.

Though the memristor was developed to expand devices' memory capacity, HP researchers discovered that it also can be used for logic computations.

That means that within six to eight years the memristor could be used to handle both memory and logic in the same chip at the same time. And that, say analysts, will bring dramatic change to the computer industry.

"Memristors have the potential to turn the computing world upside down," said Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group. "Because they are both processor and storage, they act much like synapses in the human brain. Networked together, they look to be very much faster at tasks, like pattern recognition, than conventional computers. Because of the memory aspect, they can 'learn' much better than today's systems."

Still in the research stage, the memristor is designed to be added to chips, giving transistors a sort of turbo boost, according to Stan Williams, a senior fellow with HP Labs. While some reports today have said that the memristor is designed to replace the transistor, which is one of the key building blocks of the chip, Williams said that's not the case.

The memristor and the transistor are complimentary. "Memristors are a supercharger for a transistor-integrated circuit," Williams said in an interview. "All of the circuits we're building now are hybrids with both transistors and memristors."

This new hybrid design, which could be used in PCs and small electronic devices like smart phones, could change the basic chip architecture. Today, memory and computing functions are done separately on a chip, so data has to be transferred between the two - and that is costly in terms of computing time and energy used.

"It's really a very different type of process," said Williams. "Instead of having to move data between a memory chip and a logic chip, you could just send your program to where the data is in the memory, perform the computation locally and then just send the data out."

Williams noted that he expects to see memristors used for memory in devices in three years. While it would compete with Flash memory, it would have more memory, use less power and be a lot faster.

"We are hoping that in three years to have a memristor-based circuit that will have more than twice the amount of storage as a flash memory chip will have three years from now -- and at the same time, have that chip be 10 times faster than a flash memory chip."

By the latter part of the decade, Williams said he hopes to see memristors used in chips to do computation, as well as storage.

"This is potentially a major game changer," said Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group. "If they can get this to market timely and priced well, it
could change the face of personal electronics."

Martin Reynolds, an analyst with Gartner Inc., said this could
mean big changes for the flash memory industry alone.

"If they can meet their targets - and it sounds like they can - memristors could start to appear in 2013, and rapidly take share from flash," he added. "Users won't see anything - just the continued cost-decline of memory.... The devices [using it] will be smaller and more powerful anyway. This is one of several technologies that could matter."

Olds noted that the memristors offer considerable advantage on the logistical side. They are seven to nine times smaller than flash memory, meaning that more storage can be jammed into a much smaller space.

"Its advances like memristors that will bring something like the 3-D Web into reality," he added. "Devices using memristor will be startlingly different than what we see today. First, they'll be much smaller, of course, and much smarter. These devices will also be able to reproduce much richer and more immersive visual experiences, too. They have incredible processing power for their size and will be able to generate content fast enough to make virtual experiences seem real."

Since HP is not a chip maker, Williams said they are partnering with a "couple" of companies on their new chip design. He would not name the chip makers involved.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Love is like water

Over the Easter weekend, I had a chance to catch up with my old friend Jacob. We had a good chat over a beer or two. Of course, our chat was not itemized or planned ahead. So things were brought up left and right, and one thing led to another, we talked about what love is.

I can’t recall what I had said or what he had replied, but there are certain back and forth content in our conversation that stayed in my head, somehow it is summarized as the following.

Love is like water. Most animals can’t live without it. However, different animals would need different amount of water. Like a whale can’t live with less than an ocean. But, a camel can walk for days without drinking a drop. So, the relationship of a couple would have problem when both of them need different amount of love. Yes, love can’t be measured like water, but the analogy still goes.

Furthermore, there is also a mystic relationship between "how much love you needs to be happy" and "how much love you can or willing to ‘give’ to others". Some people don’t need much love to stay happy, but he/she is generous in giving love. There are certainly case of vice versa. Such thing is bothering Jacob and his wife and I don’t know much to say as it is very difficult to dissect and truly understand a relationship unless you are in it.
Jacob is more a ‘free-spirit’ person who doesn’t like to bother with little details – just like most men. His wife is more a ‘demanding’ type that easily got upset if things doesn’t work her way. They don’t have much financial issue at the moment and they are fine with their daughter. However, when it comes to their relationship, Jacob’s wife has been upset with the lack of ‘attention’ or ‘love’ that Jacob has been offering to her. To Jacob, he is largely fine with what he got from her though he did saying that she is too emotional and cranky for many little things. Jacob admitted that he does love his wife, but he, like many men, he doesn’t exactly sure what love is. Cos, 'love' to most ‘rational’ minds is an ‘abstracted’ thing that we can’t touch or grab it in your hand. We all know that love exists, but it has no formula that once you execute, it will generate love. So, though Jacob know he loves his wife, he thought that everything he has done for her and the family is shown for his love. Jacob is a practical person, he doesn’t believe that just saying ‘I love you’ means a thing, if there is no ‘action’ to back it up. Hugging and kissing are easy, but he believes that more 'concrete' things would mean more.

However, Jacob’s wife still complain that Jacob doesn’t love her very much. That got Jacob upset. Cos, she has been a demanding person, sometimes when she asked for things from him, she expected him to stop whatever he is doing to attend her needs – which could be some simple thing that she can do herself but she simply doesn’t want to do it. He thinks that she is spoiled, partially by him. When I asked him why, he said that he is a ‘peaceful’ man, doesn’t like conflicts or shouting match at home. So, if argument can be avoided by giving in a bit on his side, he will just do it for peace sake. But, he is human, sometimes he can’t help by showing his unpleasantness towards the demands from his wife and give a ‘look’ to her somehow. That makes her a bit upset and think that he is not 100% willingly and happily do what she wants which is equivalent to his love for her. She thinks that he does what she asked because she asked for it, he lacks of the ‘voluntary self-motivation’ to ‘love’ her. I think that Jacob’s wife is a bit too demanding and has twisted what love is all about to another ‘dimension’. Cos, what Jacob is thinking that simply serving her demands with action means he loves her. If what he has done still can’t satisfy her, then he would think that he doesn’t how to love her anymore.

After I heard all of these, I don’t really know what to say….cos Jacob does opine that taking on family responsibility / taking orders from his wife are the way to prove his love to her and the family. So, love becomes a responsibility. It sounds bad, but objectively, it is not that bad, cos it is something can be measure and actionable by a rational minds. However, the case is that she doesn’t buy that completely and use some ‘out of the world’ standards to measure how much Jacob loves her. That’s just confusing and frustrating at the same time.

At the end, I don’t think I could come up with any good logical helpful advice to my friend, but simply told him that I understood what he was saying and told him to take things easy…..Cos, it is just difficult to advise on such complicated thing of relationship of which I’m by no mean an expert of it.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Becoming human...

Imagine what she will evolute into in 10 years....
Japanese robotic tech has just been amazing all these years....